Cole Bay-The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation together with inspectors from the VROMI Ministry last week to map the amount of vessels still abandoned or sunk in the Simpson Bay Lagoon after the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. During the exercise the Nature Foundation mapped and geolocated 101 boats still abandoned or sunk in the Lagoon, including both salvaged and unsalvaged vessels. The Nature Foundation is very concerned regarding the vessels remaining in the Simpson Bay Lagoon some two weeks before the start of the 2018 Hurricane Season; “Last week we managed to map out the remaining wrecks in the Simpson Bay Lagoon and unfortunately there are still a significant number of wrecks in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. This is situation is quite worrying considering both the environmental effects of still having all of these vessels in the Lagoon but also in terms of what to do with the vessels considering the pending Hurricane Season. If there is a weather event with these vessels still in the Lagoon they can cause further damage to both the environment and infrastructure,” commented Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
The Foundation is calling for a structured disposal plan for the vessels still in the Simpson Bay Lagoon; “Unfortunately, considering all of the issues going on concerning waste management , we do not suggest carrying wrecked vessels, including vessels larger than 30 meters, to the landfill. Considering this we suggest a coordinated and cooperative removal plan with St. Martin taking into account the environmental affects of removal,” continued Bervoets.
The Nature Foundation is also calling for legislation leading uo to the Hurricane Season regarding vessels entering and staying in the Lagoon during threatening storms; “There is a real need for legislation which outlines what happens in the Lagoon with regards to threatening storms and the use of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Many vessels which have been abandoned belong to owners who have left the island. The other issue is related to the delay regarding the salvaging of vessels right after Hurricane Irma which has caused many vessels that were still salvageable to be completely written off. We have learned valuable lessons in the past few months and it is now necessary for us to apply these lessons learned in order to make thus country more resilient,” concluded Bervoets.
Picture 1: VROMI Inspectors on Nature Foundation Patrol Vessel Yellowtail documenting wrecked vessels.
Picture 2: A map generated by the Nature Foundation showing the location of abandoned vessels.